Bear Bryant, Darrell Royal, Barry Switzer, Ara Parseghian, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Lavell Edwards...all well-known coaches who are enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.
The name Chris Ault probably doesn't elicit the same reaction as those of Bryant, Parseghian, etc. However, it should. Ault was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002 and has 233 wins as a head coach.
However, Ault has still been coaching even after his Hall of Fame inductment, returning to the profession in 2004. His lengthy and distinguished career finally came to an end this week, as he announced his retirement on Friday.
The reason you've probably never heard of Ault is because he spent his entire career at the University of Nevada. In three different stints as the Nevada head coach, Ault took the Wolf Pack from Division II all the way into the Top 15 of the top level of college football, finishing No. 11 in the final AP Poll of the 2010 season.
While Ault may not be as well-known or respected nationally as his accomplishments merit, the fruit of his labors is easily recognizable. Current San Fransisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick received only one college football scholarship offer, from Ault at Nevada. Under Ault's tutelage, Kaepernick went from a lightly-recruited player to one of the country's most exciting players and a first-day draft pick who is now a starter.
The other major contribution Ault made to college football came shortly after he started his third stint as Nevada's coach. Seeking a way to utilize the potent rushers he had at his disposal, Ault invented the Pistol offense. The system has caught on around the country, finding use even in the NFL. Nobody ran it better than Ault though, as in 2009 the Wolf Pack became the first team to have three 1,000-yard rushers in the same season.
Perhaps the biggest thing that set Ault apart was what also prevented him from receiving the accolades and recognition he deserved: his loyalty. Ever since his time as a QB for the Wolf Pack in the 60's, Ault has been staunchly loyal to Nevada. They gave him his first head coaching job in 1976, and he has coached for nobody else since.
Even after being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Ault came back to coach the Wolf Pack again after the program languished under Chris Tormey. It was never about the money for Ault. Even this season, he was in the bottom half of coaches salary-wise in the Mountain West Conference. He never jilted his alma matter for a bigger name or a larger paycheck. He gave and gave to Nevada even after he had done more for the program than anyone could have ever asked of him.
Chris Ault may not be one of the most renowned names in college football, but his contributions and accomplishments as the head coach of the Nevada Wolf Pack rank him right up there with the other greats of college football coaching.